Talk about Travel

The Pitons on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia (AP/Scott Sady).
Sep 17, 2018

Talk about Travel is here to help at 2 p.m. Mondays.
Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section's editors and writers are at your service.
Past Talk about Travel chats

Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel. In this week's section Andrea explored Olympia, Wash. Have a 'Big Washington' destination to recommend? Tell us about it below. Most compelling answer gets a copy of Pip Cummings's "New York Precincts: A Curated Guide to the City's Best Shops, Eateries, Bars and Other Hangouts." A quick housekeeping note: There will be no chat next week, Sept. 24, but the chatting will resume on Monday, Oct. 1. On to your questions!

I'd like to plan a trip for next year to visit a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. We live in the midwest. Our daughter is ten, so I'm looking for a family-friendly place, and my life partner uses a power wheelchair for mobility, so we would need somewhere accessible. Any suggestions for how to start looking?

Do you want to fly and then drive? If so, I'd choose a beach that's close to an airport so you don't have to drive for hours after landing. If you're driving the entire route, look at mileage. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has a good reputation for accessibility and there is an airport. 

I am looking to take a break in November and would love some suggestions of where I can go to hike and eat great food (not interested in Asheville because I used to live there). We were hoping to do Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, but from what I understand a lot of the national parks start to close up because of snow around this time (would be happy to be proved wrong about this!). Is New Mexico a good idea? Also, I am headed to Chicago for the first time next month to see my sister run in the marathon. We will have one day that is totally free; anything that we must see or eat? Thanks for your help!

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon closes Oct. 15, but the national park is otherwise open year-round. If you're looking for a similar experience, I would recommend Sedona. The hiking is some of the best I've ever experienced in my travels. I've lived in Sedona for the last two months and am still exploring all of the hiking paths. Note: the area gets a little crowded during major holidays, and spring break is particularly busy.

Recently I was searched "inside the clothing" by TSA because a tissue in one pocket showed up on the screen. And--they never even looked at my pocket, searched inside the pocket, or screened it for contaminants. I'm a 67-year-old grandmother who has had a clearance of one sort or another most of my life. I am not even a remotely likely candidate for a crime. What rights do I have? Could I have refused? Asked for a lawyer? What if I had refused the search? At the thought of flying again in a month, I realized that I'm feeling afraid to go through the line again. I signed up for TSA pre-check but am angry that I got fooled into paying for what seems like a TSA bribe to me.

Even if you have TSA Precheck, you are not exempt from pat-downs. With the program, trusted travelers do not have to remove their electronics, liquids, shoes or light coats. But the officers can still search your bag and your person.

Last year, the agency introduced more "intimate" body searches that involve more touching in personal spaces. You can refuse the search, but TSA could refuse to let you through to your gate. Next time, empty your pockets and wear simple clothes with few embellishments. If you feel that the officer was inappropriate, you can submit a complaint. Here is the contact info.

What is a good, safe way to get from Heathrow Airport to a hotel in the center of London? We would like something cheaper than a taxi, but do not want to use the Tube or trains with our luggage. Thanks

Take a look at Heathrow Shuttle, the Heathrow Express (it is part of train system, but designed for those with luggage) and bus service.   

I just spent a couple of weeks in Europe. A little mini trip report: Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg is a real gem. The level of detail is astounding - it is the world's largest model train layout, but they also have maybe one of the only scale model airports in the world. Highly recommended. Norway is gorgeous and easy to get around but insanely expensive. I almost felt like I need to apply for a bank loan at every meal. But the real surprise was Warsaw. Lots of beautiful sights. The rebuilt and restored landmarks that were destroyed in WWII look fantastic. Everything is incredibly cheap (and not only in contrast to Norway). The public transit system is extensive and a 3 day pass costs only about $10. The language is very different so can be a slight barrier but people are extremely friendly and nice. I am definitely considering going back. Lot Polish Airlines canceled my return flight and it was way too big of a hassle to get things sorted out but I eventually found a helpful agent who gave me exactly what I wanted. Have you all been to Poland?

Thanks for the trip report. 

Lot of talk last week on this. We never got around to GE even though we travel out of US a few times/year....mainly because Dulles hasn't been a problem...until Labor Day. However, I had heard about "Mobile Passport.com"...free but only available at certain airports. So pre trip, I downloaded form, took our pics, etc. Upon arriving at Dulles, I was able to get on their wifi and submit form. Approaching the huge lines, I showed it to guard. She unhooked strap and ushered us thru. Not to Global Entry but a separate line and we were 2nd!! The woman in front of me said she had Global Entry but this was "quicker". Any experience with this? It was truly amazing.

I love Mobile Passport. I covered that option, and all of the others, in a recent Navigator column.

Sanofi the manufacturer of the Yellow Fever vaccine has been out of the vaccine for over a year. Yellow Fever Vaccine centers have been reduced from 4000 to 250 .. causing obvious hassles . Question how long will this last .. Sanofi moves the date of vaccine availability from this winter to next year. It would help if the media asked questions regarding this ... as it seem weird that company that has a monopoly on a product can without oversight cause such a potentially dangerous situation for travelers.

 The shortage is caused by many factors, including an outbreak in Brazil, but many U.S. clinics have a backup vaccination, so travelers are not at risk of contracting yellow fever. I recently received a shot through Kaiser-Permanente; I think it was Stamaril. I also carried a lot of insect repellent.

Last week, someone inquired about bookstores and Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin. As a former resident (and frequent visitor these days), if you ask 100 locals, you'll get 100 different answers about the best Tex-Mex. But everyone agrees about the best bookstores -- Half Price Books. There are several locations in Austin and they are huge stores which offer used paperbacks and hardbacks in all genres. (They also have some new books, calendars, gifts, DVDs, and even rare books.) No trip to Austin for me is complete without a visit to at least one or two Half Price Book stores.

Thanks for the tip!

As a Fort Lauderdale resident I encourage you to consider coming here. The Airport is close to the beach. The newer or renovated hotels along the beach are all ADA accessible. Some of the public beaches even have mats laid out that will accommodate a wheelchair. There is a very long sidewalk running parallel to the beach that is both family and wheelchair friendly. Our beaches are very pretty, and our water is very clean… No red tide.

Yes, I agree. Fort Lauderdale would be a good choice. 

It’s the best way to go - fast, easy access/egress, and lots of room for luggage. And lots of taxis once you get to Paddington.

It's not cheap, but it's certainly easy.

How do locate deals for budget conscious travelers, say, less than $1000? Though I'd like to travel but it's simply too expensive. A trip to Europe or Asia can easily cost thousands of dollars which I obviously can't afford. I usually do a "stay-cation" instead of travelling abroad.

Carol wrote a great piece on budget travel essentials. Here is the piece.

I’m thinking about buying travel insurance for a cruise this spring - we usually skip this, but I always try to weigh the pros (coverage) and the cons (expense - in this case, a lot). My travel agent sent me info on packages with Allianz, but how do I find out about other companies out there that might be worth considering?

Thanks for your question. I wrote a comprehensive Navigator column on travel insurance in 2012 and return to the subject frequently. If there's anything I've missed, please let me know and I'll be happy to answer.

How long does it take to travel from Boston to Danville, Va.?

I can't even guess this, as it will depend on time of day, day of week, weather, etc. I'd Google Map it over the course of a week or so to come up with an average. Because if I check it during a rainy rush hour, it's going to be very different than a sunny Sunday departing at 5 a.m.

Hi - I asked about a nearby trip with an infant last week but none of the chatters had any ideas. More specifically, we're thinking of either a road trip to somewhere within 4-5 hours driving distance, or possibly a cruise out of Baltimore. Any other ideas from chatters that we aren't considering that worked well for them?

Any chatters who have traveled with infants want to weigh in? 

We live in Denver and are planning a trip to New Zealand. It looks we could save a bit on the flights if we book flights from SFO or LAX and then separate flights from/to Denver rather than a single itinerary from Denver. With a family of 4 that could be add up to $800-1000. But I'm hesitant because of the risk of missing the connection, especially given we will fly out of Denver in the winter. What are your experiences with doing this?

If your flights are connected in the system, the airline will place you on the next available flight and, if necessary, provide accommodations and meals. If they aren't, the airline will consider you a no-show and you'll have to buy a new ticket. I wouldn't do it with a family of four. I wouldn't even do it if it were just me. Those flights need to be connected just in case there's a delay. I've heard too many horror stories.

My husband and I are looking at driving up to Pittsburgh (from North Carolina) in October to see the fall colors. We’ve only got a few days, and my husband said that hotel rates are really high the weekend we’re looking at. He thinks maybe there’s a football game that weekend. He suggested going to Philadelphia instead but I don’t like I-95. Is there anywhere else on the western side of the state we can go? We’d just be looking for a town near some scenic drives where we could get a comfortable hotel room and have access to good restaurants. We’d love to go to Fallingwater and maybe Johnstown. We’re planning on a Wednesday through Saturday trip.

Seven Springs is a resort, not a town, but it's close to both Fallingwater and Johnstown.  Any chatters have another suggestion? 

Getting through immigration fast is great. But then you have to wait forever for your luggage anyway which sort of defeats the purpose

True. Thanks for the reality check.

Sedona is probably your best bet. It's still on my bucket list, but I know someone who goes every year in the fall and swears by it. As for Yosemite, go another time. In November, roads and trails aren't likely to be closed by snow (especially early in the month and if you take the southern route, 140, in), but it will be rather bleak. The fall rains will have just started (hopefully!!), so the falls in the Valley will not be flowing much yet. If you ever want to take an "off season" trip to Yosemite, go in December and attend the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee, now known as the Majestic, due to the greedy and illegal-trademark holding of the Delaware Company (IMHO...). The Bracebridge is a Renaissance feast complete with a play performed as multiple, delicious courses are served.

Thank you.

We did the Grand Canyon (both rims) in early October. Very, very cold on the north rim, and cold nights/mornings on the south. I can endorse New Mexico. There’s lots of options from serious backpacking (Gila wildness) to day hiking the Sandias right from ABQ.

Thank you!

I recommend Zion National Park in Utah. You'll find a lot of articles online describing why Zion is a good hiking destination in November.

I love Zion in November. We were there last year. It's much quieter than in the summer, and the temperatures are perfect.

I loved hiking in Sedona 5 years ago (can't wait to go back) but I will say the food options left much to be desired. Ended up eating at the same 3 or 4 restaurants repeatedly. Didn't help that one of the best restaurants in town (Elote Café) was closed for the owner's annual vacation. Hope things have improved.

They're OK. Since we live here, we alternate between shopping at Natural Grocers, Safeway, and Whole Foods. We have a weakness for ChocolaTree, which as great vegan food but is a little pricey. If you can get to Indian Gardens when the sourdough is warm, it's worth a trip. Also, it's near West Fork, one of my favorite trails.

How is Sedona for young elementary kids? My sister and I are trying to take a trip together and my 6 year old son will also be coming along. She's thrown out the idea of Sedona. Thoughts?

Sedona isn't really a destination for kids. You'll find a few easy hikes and kid-friendly restaurants, but it's no Anaheim or Orlando.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the "Travels with Darley" episode that Andrea wrote about earlier this year. I was a bit surprised when the article said there was a skiing segment, because I don't associate that with the South of France. But there it was, about a two minute segment in the show. It was fun to watch the show and then re-read Andrea's article. There were quite a few segments to the show, so I can see why it takes several days to film a 30-minute show. They put a lot of work into it! Thanks for the article, Andrea!

Oh, I still need to see that episode. I keep on missing it! I was amazed too how much we did for just a 30-minute episode. She could definitely run a Part II and III.

And here's a link to the piece, in case you missed it.

There are also companies that only do airport runs. I've used Airport Executive in the past and they're reliable. Two things to consider: they charge a 'convenience fee' if you don't use cash and be careful of how they calculate the pickup time.

It's also fairly expensive. 

Yup - recently my 'groin area' lit up coming through the detector. The TSA rep asked if I wanted a private putdown of my um privates. Seems obvious to me I'd like eyes on what she was actually doing. In fact, she was entirely professional and that's not the sort of thing that particularly stresses me. In fact, I think we she was more uncomfortable about it than I was. But it certainly was quite intimate.

Good to know that she was professional, and what an uncomfortable job!

Check hotels in Greensburg, Latrobe, or Ligonier.

Thanks!

Happy Monday! I'm looking at hotels in London for a 4 day stay in January. First question - is there any reason for me to wait to book a room until later in the year (off-season deals, etc)? Second question, I'm traveling with a family member so we're looking for a room with two beds. Do you know of any hotel search websites that offer that level of specificity? I know AirBnB offers that search term (though many times the second bed is actually a pull-out couch) but I'm focusing on hotels right now.

I'd start looking now especially if you want to stay in a centrally located, well-priced and popular hotel. If you're on a budget, look at the Premier Inn chain - you can request double or twin rooms, but I'd likely send an email to confirm.  

Today's code is TT2271. It expires at midnight, so be sure to enter it on Monday to get credit for participating.

I found a trip to LA for less than $200 round trip. I want to travel at the end of Oct. to visit friends. When I checked car rental prices they were over $400, which I cannot afford. Any suggestions for cheap car rentals? I'm a senior, by the way.

I just looked for car rentals in early November in Los Angeles and came across the same issue. I've never seen rates so high. Even Costco, which typically has lower prices, was way up there. I also looked at renting directly from owners, and those rates were high. The best prices I found were on Hotwire, but you have to pay in advance and they don't tell you name of vendor until after you pay. Price differences between nonrefundable advance purchase  and pay-at-the-counter were substantial across-the-board. Costco did have one SUV rate that was under $300 for four days, but that's still expensive. 

Planning a SE Asia trip in November and I'd like to loop in Vietnam for 3-4 days. If you could only pick one place in Vietnam to visit, where would it be? Hanoi and Halong Bay? Ho Chi Minh City? Hue? Help! Thanks!

I'd say Hanoi and Halong Bay over Ho Chi Minh City, if you're going for leisure. Ho Chi is a dynamic and vibrant city, but it is also exhilarating, overwhelming and a bit dizzying. Hanoi is a little more lax and will have better weather in November. 

The National Park Service has tours of the B Reactor at Hanford in Eastern Washington as part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park. Not exactly the lush green you think of with Washington State. Hanford is where they produced the Plutonium for the Atomic Bomb. It is really far from anything which is probably a good thing. But I am really glad we had the opportunity to see this historic site.

I had no idea this was a Thing -- read about it here.

another option is to stay at Washington PA - on I-70/79. Lots of places to stay near the interstates. About a half hour from Pittsburgh and an hour or so from Fallingwater.

Another idea on PA visit

Visit Kentuck Knob & Ohiopyle near Fallingwater , stay in Ligonier or Nemacolin or Omni at Bedford. Look on the Laurel Highlands website.

The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is a good place to start your research. 

Just travel wherever you want to go, babies are portable. But if you really are thinking about a cruise, better check into that. My kids are grown now, but I know in the past babies had to be past their first birthdays for sea travel.

It's six months now on most larger cruise lines. 

We (two adults, no children) are planning a trip to Belize in January 2019 for 6 to 8 days. We are more backpack travelers than resort-goers. Some questions we have are: 1) Are wetsuits recommended for snorkeling in Belizean waters? 2) We want to see one or two Maya ruins. Which one(s) do you recommend? 3) Is it worth the extra time and effort to also visit the Tikal ruin in Guatemala? 4) Is there a good museum on Mayan culture? 5) Any other advice you have for us? Thank you so much!

I have not been to any of the Maya ruins in Belize, but can recommend a small island off the shore of Belize City called Caye Caulker. It's very laid back, no cars, accessible by ferry and has a nice nature preserve and good diving. 

I know the OP said they didn't want to use the tube but for getting to many parts of London it really is the best option and often quicker - and easier - than taking the Express As they will be boarding at Heathrow there is a lot of room for luggage. OP should use the trip planner on www.tfl.gov.uk to plan their trip to their hotel.

I hate taking the regular Tube when I have luggage, especially if I have to change trains. There are steps, the trains are very narrow and it's just no fun. But if you're on a strict budget, it is cheap. 

Looking for recommendations on a city for an extended layover, say 12-36 hours, on the way to and from Italy in June. I know some airlines like Turkish Air allow it, while other airlines we may have to book open jaw.

Several airlines (Icelandair, Turkish Air, Wow, JAL, etc.) permit free layovers, but make sure you are not adding on hours of additional flight time. Airfarewatchdog posted a good round-up of free layovers. Note that Iceland's airport is not in Reykjavik, but you can take a cab to the Blue Lagoon and soak out your jet lag.

 

A few years ago we were in Bellingham. Lovely college town. Fabulous bookstores. A cute theater near (or in?) a historical RR depot where we saw a one man show about when Mark Twain visited Bellingham.. Low-key fun.

Thanks for the recommendation!

My husband and I did just fine in May by getting an Oyster card from an Underground machine in Heathrow, and taking the Heathrow Connect train to Paddington. A few more stops than the Heathrow Express, but it didn't take that much longer and saved us a bunch of pounds.

Thanks for the idea. 

Try driving up US Route 15 (north of Harrisburg). I've used this route going to Buffalo for many years and the colors in the hills north of Harrisburg to the NY State line are beautiful, especially around Columbus Day weekend. But, this might be too far east for the questioner.

If it's just about seeing fall colors, there are many good choices, including this route.

Were they that bad for off-airport locations? Sometimes those are cheaper. I've also found surprisingly cheap rentals out of Ontario, even out of Ontario and returning at LAX.

Yes, again, if you can get to the other rental places without paying much, it's an option. 

Is the OP staying right in LA, or in a surrounding area? Often car rentals are much less expensive if you're away from the airport. Maybe her friends could pick her up or she could take an Uber, and rent a car in whatever town she's staying in.

It is cheaper outside the airport and nearby suburbs, and that's an option if someone can pick you up. But if you add the cost of a round-trip Uber, it's a wash. 

While the rates may not be what the traveler is hoping for, the Omni Bedford Springs and Nemacolin Resorts in Western PA are certainly an option. For more affordable Pittsburgh-area hotel rates, especially coming from DC, consider staying east of the city such as in Greensburg where you also have some great local Italian restaurants.

Yes, both nice resorts. 

Travelling with an infant is pretty easy, really, just pack the baby, the car seat, and go wherever you want to go. But the biggest question I have for you is when are you going to go? Your question last week seem to imply that you wanted to plan to travel during your maternity leave. But if the baby comes later than planned, or the birth is difficult (emergency C-section, say), you might not be interested, or able, to do much beyond travelling to Target, or you may miss your dates. Probably best to wait til after baby is here and then decide when or where you want to go, unless you mean something 6+ weeks out.

Food for thought. 

Keep looking every day. It's not until the end of November, so may not help the OP, but I finally locked in eight days for about $300 at Costco for a "full size" car. It kept coming up around $425 before that.

That's a good price. 

Yes - it is pricey. It's cheaper than a taxi and also if you're buying multiple Heathrow Express tickets it doesn't seem so costly. Heathrow Express price is diabolical Liberty Taking.

I liked the Heathrow Express, but, yes, it's not cheap. 

Why not fly to another city/airport the night before and stay in a hotel?

Yes, maybe. But you still could have some kind of travel disruption. It's not worth the risk, in my opinion.

Any idea generally how long it takes to clear customs to get out of the airport? I'm planning on taking the Stansted Express train to the city and trying to calculate how much time I'll need before getting the train.

It is impossible to say, since it depends on the number of international flights arriving at the same time. However, reviews on Skytrax are pretty bad. I would give yourself up to two hours to be safe.

If you are on separate flights then you are NOT connecting. This is important as with many airlines you will not have any protection if one flight is late they don't have to just put you on the next flight. You need your flights to be on the SAME ticket to get that protection. Look at any increase in cost as the cost of ensuring you get to your destination without having to spring for expensive, last minute tickets

Thank you for the clarification. 

We did half a week at Five Sisters Lodge. You definitely need a 4WD vehicle to get there, even more so if you stay at the Riverside Lodge, which was beautiful and awe inspiring. For ruins, we toured the Caracol Ruins, which was really beautiful. If you check their site, they do a lot of tours from that location. The lodge was very special, and the people even more so.

Thanks for the recommendation. 

Ditto on mobile passport. We were on a tour in Norway and another group member mentioned it. I have Global entry, so wondered what the fuss was about mobile passport but it was much faster. (LAX). Also ditto on how beautiful Norway is. We spent a few extra days in Oslo after a tour that went as far as Geiranger. If you go to Oslo and are interested in music and architecture don’t miss the Oslo operahouse tour. Just wonderful.

Thanks for the great view of Norway (and mobile passport).

Do the architectural boat tour! Wait until the morning of to see how the weather is and then book your ticket that day. (they tend to sell out) The Chicago Architecture Foundation provides the most comprehensive tour (in my opinion) but they are all very good. Other ideas- walk through Millennial Park to see the bean/gardens/ so much more. You can spend 15 minutes or hours upon hours there. You're also close to the Art Institute there. For lunch, go to Purple Pig or one of the Rick Bayless restaurants - splurge if you want at Topolobampo. If it's raining, hop on the Brown line somewhere in the loop and take it towards Kimball (the end of the line) It's entirely elevated the entire journey and takes you on a cheap and fun tour of many Chicago neighborhoods. If you want to explore, get off at Western stop and go to Lincoln Square. After all this, you could probably head back downtown for a cheap Uber ride. ($15) Enjoy!

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Be aware that November is rainy season for the central coast. I had pretty unfortunate weather when I visited Hoi An in November several years ago.

Thanks for the tip.

LOL...Indian Gardens and ChocolaTree were two of the restaurants we lived at. The other was Wildflower Bread Company.

Thanks!

For the traveler interested in seeing the leaves in Pittsburgh, an alternative could be I81 up to the PA Turnpike and staying in Gettysburg or Harrisburg.

Yet another option. 

It's been several years since I've been, but no need for wet suits. I traveled there in January and in March and the water was great. Belize City wasn't the safest (maybe it's better now?) so head from the airport to the islands - Caye Caulker is great and it's easy to ferry to other islands. I did head to Tikal in Guatemala and absolutely loved it. It was recommended at the time to travel during daylight hours. I don't remember any museums, but Tikal should give you good education.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Hello! I booked a flight to Ireland through Philly (departing DCA) and only have an hour between flights. Friends have now told me Philly is the worst b/c the international terminal is far away. Should I be concerned? Lace up my running shoes? We will check two bags and each have a carry on.

There are two airports I won't connect through: JFK and Philly. But if you already have your flight, all I can suggest is that you try to reserve a seat in the front of the plane and pack extra clothes in your carry-on in case your bags don't make it. Also, check with the airline to see when the next flight to Ireland is, so that you can try to get a seat on it.

48 years ago this month we spent a few days retired friends who lived in Pullman, WA., in the midst of the Palouse region, with golden waves of grain. Also, just about any college town is worth a visit! Would love to return there, although alas our friends are long-since deceased, and we know no one there.

Mt. Rainier. Olympic National Park. Does it get any better than that???

Olympic National Park! Amazing ecosystem diversity. Tidepools at the ocean. Hoh Rainforest with moss and ferns. Giant trees near Lake Quinault Lodge.

They are portable and I have done it but really, not our best vacations. A few ideas, are there relatives that would be delighted to see the baby. Do that if you can. I treasure the memories of the kid's great grandparents and great-great aunts and uncles getting to see them. Perfect time for a staycation. If you are already back at work, great time to just hang uninterrupted with your family. If you are a primary, round the clock care giver having your partner home all day with you for a week is miraculous. Go out to lunch when you know the baby will nap, check out local attractions you may not see. This will give you a sense of toting a baby to all kinds of places but allow you to be somewhere familiar at the end of the day.

Nice ideas.

Hi - We're considering a trip to South America next summer with two kids - 8 and 11 - and were wondering if you have any thoughts about possible countries to narrow our planning around and if we should think about multiple countries over a 10-14 day period or if it is better to stick to one.

It all depends on what your family likes to do. For a mix of culture and wildlife, I would suggest Ecuador -- combine Quito and the mountain villages with a Galapagos cruise. Or consider Argentina and Chile, visiting the main cities plus a few days in Patagonia (land or sea).

When traveling with children in South America, you need to consider the health hazards. They will likely need vaccinations, and you will have to be careful with food, drinking water and altitude.

Last week someone asked about doing a driving tour around the Provence region in France by using Aix-en-Provence as a "base." Even though you suggested Nice as an option, I would strongly recommend staying in "Aix" instead based on our experience there two years ago. Nice is great if you're going to be mainly near the coast, but Aix puts you much closer to many of the wonderful spots in Provence, and the city itself is a great destination in it's own right. Aix-en-Provence has a beautiful historic central area, a fantastic market scene, and bustling nightlife (it's a big college town). We took the TGV train there from Paris and rented a car, which put us in easy driving distance of Avignon, Nimes, Rousillon, and numerous other wonderful places.

Thanks for weighing in!

I think your concern is immigration because European Customs is spot - you just walk through and they pull 'random' people over. Stanstead Express goes pretty frequently. I'm not sure it's something to worry to much about unless you have a time you have to be in Central London.

Thanks!

If you go up Rte. 15 don't plan on staying anywhere near State College on a football weekend. Hotels won't be expensive, they will be full. WE ARE! PENN STATE!

True that.

skytrax is not a reliable source. It has been censured by the Advertising Authorities in the UK for manipulating it's ratings and for editing review. You lose a lot of credibility for even mentioning them!

Good to know. I hope I gain my credibility back next week -- though we are not having chat, so make that two Mondays from now.

There are actually three National Parks in Washington. Mt Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades. All worth a visit.

I second Olympic National Park. Stay at the Crescent Lake Lodge or a few hours south, Lake Quinalt Lodge, you won't be disappointed!

Looks like our time is up -- thanks for chatting today. Manhattan Project National Historical Site visitor, drop us a line at travel@washpost.com to claim your prize. A quick reminder that there will be no chat next week, Sept. 24, but we will return on Monday, Oct. 1. Chat with you then! 

In This Chat
Nicole Arthur
Nicole Arthur is the Travel editor.
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
Recent Chats
  • Next: